The Importance of Dance Numbers in Musicals

Personally, I think that one of the most exciting parts of the musical experience is that huge ensemble dance break. Shows like Something Rotten! are known for their choreography and dance breaks and personally, I think that they are one of the best moments.

But what about musicals like Les Misérables that don’t have huge dance numbers (except for some waltzing)?

Well, clearly, Les Misérables has been successful without the dance numbers. And really, if there were dance numbers, it would throw off the mood.

There is a time and place for dance breaks. Sometimes it’s going to work really well for the story that you’re telling. Other times? Not so much.


30 thoughts on “The Importance of Dance Numbers in Musicals

  1. The dance is one of the most exciting parts about a musical. It is one of the reasons why I love musicals. This summer, I saw Newsies and the dance was mind-blowing and saw Wicked a fourth time and their dancing was incredible as well.

    But like you said, some musicals just aren’t big on dance. I love Les Mis so much and what makes up for the loss of dance is the sheer power, brilliance, epic, and emotional quality of the songs, characters, and plot.


      1. I may not vivid memories of seeing Wicked on Broadway, but the impact clearly shows. It is still spectacular to this day and Elphaba’s story I ended up becoming more and more vulnerable to.

        At school, I am constantly asked which musicals do I like the most between Wicked and Les Mis as they are my top two favorites. So I just respond by calling Wicked my musical comedy


      2. The biggest reason why I don’t choose between Wicked and Les Mis is because just how severely different they are.

        One is this magical, spectacle/dance filled, fantasy musical comedy

        The other is this extremely powerful, epic, inspirational musical tragedy.


      3. Yeah. They’re beautiful for two very different reasons and it’s super hard to compare them. Whenever people ask me about whether they should watch Les Miz or Wicked, I always have to say: “Well, it depends on what you’re looking for”. Because they’re beautiful in their own ways, for their own reasons.


      4. They both are powerful. The crazy thing is I may relate to Elphaba more than any of the characters in Les Mis, but I feel emotions so much more deeper in Les Mis.

        Wicked is truly a tale about friendship while Les Mis is truly a tale about hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity and redemption


      5. Yeah. I think that both have really changed the way in which I interact with people and live my life. I owe so much to both of them that there isn’t a day that goes by in which I’m not grateful that both of them have come into my life.


      6. Both came part of my life at different stages in my life. The first in middle school (Wicked) and the second in my first year of (college).

        Both picked the right timing to enter my life. I am forever grateful for both of them. I am obsessed with Les Mis and it showed me a side of musicals that I thought were impossible


      7. Until Les Miz, I was kind of unaware that musicals could be so very sad and realistic. They’re both such beautiful musicals and I love them both so much. Depending on what I’m going through in my life, I find different merits in both.


      8. You and I have a similar story when it comes to Les Mis. Before Les Mis, I believed all musicals were happy. I did not know Les Mis was a tragedy when I first saw the movie. But if my parents told me, I wouldn’t have gone.

        I am obsessed with that musical. I saw the stage show four times, but the best time was when I finally saw it in London last year.


      9. Nice! I want to see Les Miz again so bad. I also almost (might have) not went to see Les Miz. But everyday, I am so happy that I did watch it because I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s such a beautiful, wonderful musical that I can just obsess over all of the time.


      10. Totally agree. Because of Les Miz I’ve rally stepped out of what I thought of as my comfort zone. Les Miz has just changed me so much in so many good ways that I don’t think that I will ever not love it. Les Miz has such a beautiful, wonderful story that I don’t think that a person can walk away with Les Miz without taking something away from it.


      11. I am obsessed with Les Mis. When I saw the movie a second time, I was able to pay attention better and that time, I knew there was something special about the emotional world and storyline and characters. I wanted to know why such a heartbreaker was so inspirational, and glad I discovered that. I don’t think there will be a day where I don’t love Les Mis. Les Miserables’ heartbreaking and inspirational natures truly interlock. There is just too many wonderful things to describe about Les Mis.

        I read the unabridged book and never skipped a thing even the boring history lessons. It took less than one summer. That book made me fall with the musical even more.

        I think it would be fun if you actually look at my blog and explore all of the musical posts I have posted. I want to say there are over fifty dealing with Les Mis


      12. Oh, wow, cool! I should go through all of those posts! I think that it would be cool to read everything that you have to say about Les Miz. Interestingly enough, I also read Les Miz over the summer a few years back! And I agree. I think that reading the book really adds to the musical’s beauty.


      13. Yeah. I don’t think that I would have pushed through if it wasn’t for my love of the musical. There were some parts that were really hard to get through, but overall, I think that it was a really rewarding experience.


      14. Yeah. Like those lengthy descriptions of the Parisian sewer systems! To this day, I can explain it pretty well to most people thanks to Les Miz. I think that Les Miz really opened my eyes to the genre of historical musicals as well as made me appreciate history more.


      15. I hate history so much. Whenever people say that Les Mis takes place during the French Revolution, I have to say that it does not. Mom calls me a walking talking Les Mis enclyopedia and a Les Mis nerd


      16. So true! Goodness’s sakes… I can’t stand it when people say that Les Miz is about the French Revolution. I think that the Victor Hugo quote that says “There are accepted revolutions, revolutions which are called revolutions; there are refused revolutions, which are called riots” really speaks to that. And, as much as I am a French revolution geek, I can’t stand it when people mix the two up. Because they were two very different things.


      17. Les Mis is the June Rebellion of 1832s on June 5th and June 6th. A revolution is when the people win and a rebellion is when the government wins and the June Rebellion as shown through Les Mis was highly unsuccessful. That rebellion would have forgotten if it wasn’t in Les Mis to begin with


      18. That’s definitely true. Because I’m known as being a French revolution geek at school, someone asked me how accurate Les Miz was in portraying the storming of the Bastille and I was really frustrated because the June Rebellion is not the French revolution. And it’s definitely not the Storming of the Bastille. I think that the June Rebellion definitely had French revolution influence, but I hate when people get the two mixed up.


      19. So very true. I wish that there was a little more information on the June Rebellion out there. I’d really like to learn more about it. Unfortunately, there’s not much to be found easily on that topic. There’s a lot more on the July Revolution of 1830.


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